Employers are being urged to help protect victims of domestic violence after a rise in cases was revealed. Emma Pearmaine, of Sheffield-based law firm Simpson Millar, believes there is not enough support for workers.
Police forces have announced that they received more than 350,000 reports of domestic violence in the year up to April 2015, which was a rise of more than one-third. Simpson Millar carried out a survey in November, which stated that 16 per cent of people have a friend, colleague or family member who is suffering from the problem.
Pearmaine, who is also a trustee for domestic violence charity CAADV, said: “For women aged 15-44, domestic violence is the single greatest cause of injury and illness. Typically fueled by alcohol and other seasonal pressures, we always see an influx of cases from women especially, seeking urgent help in the run-up to Christmas.
“Luckily Legal Aid is still available to those surviving domestic violence but essential help and support could and should be provided at a far earlier stage – especially by employers. I am not exaggerating when I say such action saves lives.”
According to the Simpson Millar survey, 36% of people believe that their close friends or family members would tell them if they were suffering from domestic violence.
Pearmaine said: “People generally believe that a friend or relative who was being abused at home would reach out to them. Sadly, this is very often not the case. Instead, we all need to know what domestic violence looks and sounds like so that we can identify when someone is suffering, and provide the necessary support. Given the amount of time most of us spend at work, there is a huge opportunity to start there.”
Simpson Millar has been campaigning for the elimination of domestic violence since 2012, reaching out to other businesses to share resources and experiences which have been successful already in supporting employees. Pearmaine recently joined the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, at a reception for campaigners on the eve of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which was on 25 November.
The CAADV was launched by Baroness Scotland to help employers protect their employees through a number of cost-neutral measures.